Verdant, rich and lush Kerala is often uttered in the same sentence as ‘god’. The southern Indian state was made famous by Arundhati Roy’s novel A God of Small Things, and it is called ‘god’s own country’ because it is said to have been created by Lord Parusram for his devotees. Added to all that, it is Kerala cuisine that is actually divine.
Many in Kathmandu will be familiar with dosa through the Indian restaurants in the capital, but they maybe have not heard of appam, its cousin from Kerala. Appam is a round bread half the size of dosa, crispy on the sides and soft and fluffy in the center. Unlike dosa which is made of rice and dal flours, appam is made of raw and cooked rice puree. At Soaltee’s Kerala Food Festival that begins 12 March, you can try out this exotic staple that is hard to find in Kathmandu’s Indian restaurants.
The festival offers many other novelties from Kerala state famous for its placid palm-fringed backwaters. Puttu and idiyappam, other dishes which substitute for rice and roti are available, as are many chicken, fish, and vegetable dishes. Chef Rejimon P S from Kerala is making making the dishes, so you can be sure of their authenticity.
“The main ingredient in Keralan dishes is coconut,” explains Chef Rejimon. “We use coconut flakes in most vegetables and meat dishes. Coconut milk is used in gravies, and even if coconut is not obvious, it is usually present as oil.”
Indeed, the green vegetables and mushroom fries and covered in coconut flakes, which gives them a mild, creamy flavour. Coconut milk goes well with the non -vegetarian dishes like chicken and fish, which melt in the mouth. They can be mixed with plain rice, or Kerala’s special coriander rice which has an inviting green colour.